Silva Screen, out May 18
It’s a sign of how integral Murrray Gold’s music is to nu-Who that whenever there’s a new Doctor I’m less interested in how the iconic main theme has been rearranged than the new incidental theme that has been written for the latest incumbent. And what a belter Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor theme is – represented here initially in a seven-minute ‘hero’ suite. Majestic and brassy, A Good Man? is a maturer piece than Matt Smith’s Mad Man with a Box, reflecting a less kinetic and more introspective Time Lord. Conductor Ben Foster makes house band National Orchestra of Wales soar; I can’t wait to listen to this live in May’s UK Symphonic Spectacular performances.
Silva Screen has been releasing soundtracks from 21st century Doctor Who right from the start. The fact that season’s one and two were represented by a single disc and that this new set has three discs devoted to a single season and a Christmas Special just shows how seriously the label take these scores, and the fact that there’s a willing audience ready to buy them. Episodes one to twelve fill the first two discs while Last Christmas stands alone on the third.
Fans will delight that the new season main theme is included (an omission from some previous releases) and just how it ranks in the pantheon of theme variations has already been a topic on numerous forums. Supporting the ticking cogs of the new title sequence there’s a clockwork device that spills into the score for opening episode Deep Breath. A lot of the groundwork for Season 8’s sound is established within Ben Wheatley’s season opener – 12’s theme most noticeably, which is spread across all of the time and space occupied by these discs. The clicking, ticking and tocking are prevalent in the nine cues devoted to Capaldi’s opener, and is there anything more fun than the propulsive charging melody of Pudding Brains?
Into the Dalek is a real departure, boasting an electronic score that throws back to the heady days of 80s Radiophonica. Elsewhere Robot of Sherwood gets a suitably swashbuckling score (equal parts Zimmer and Korngold) with no little nod to Gold’s own The Curse of the Black Spot. And for every exciting brassy action cue there’s a tender string-laden gem – Listen’s Fear being a personal favourite.
Disc 2 kicks off in style with four jaunty cues from crime caper Time Heist before the sole track from The Caretaker, an Eastern European polka for Skovok Blitzer. Missy’s Theme is a significant new piece that is blended into the tapestry of the new season and is represented here in two cues – Halia Meguid’s vocal version and an extended instrumental.
Sadly there’s no Foxes singing Don’t Stop Me Now (or indeed any other woodland animals), but instead wallow in the 12 cues that cover off the season finale two-parter Dark Water/Death in Heaven. The Song of Danny and Clara stands out – a gorgeous piece that reflection that wouldn’t be out of place ion one of John Williams’ pastoral or Potter scores. (The Majestic Tale of) An Idiot With a Box is a glorious remix of 12’s theme; it’s A Good Man? by way of Mad Man with a Box and a rousing way to finish the second disc.
Disc 3 comprises 14 tracks from 2014 Christmas special Last Christmas and with a running time of 40 minutes must cover off pretty much every new musical beat from the hour-long show. For a story that melded The Thing, Aliens and Santa Claus the composer holds it all together magnificently. And because we get the whole piece it feels like we’re getting a complete end-to-end movement rather than a selection of cues. Believe in Santa is a cheeky companion piece to All the Strange Strange Creatures, and grab your hankies for Last Christmas, a beautiful lament that ensures it’s not just the strings that are weeping by its conclusion.
Resident composer Murray Gold has regenerated again in line with the show’s eponymous hero, taking us on another wild journey of musical adventures. And if you need one final incentive to pick it up, there’s a 24-page booklet with notes from Gold. The first 5,000 copies are slipcased and include a 16-page booklet of Stuart Manning’s 13 retro posters. Stop reading this review and drop this into your shopping cart!
Verdict: An essential purchase for fans of Doctor Who. 9/10